Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Responding to Those Who Are "Not Quite Friends" (NQF)?

There is an ingrained Mormon reflex to angry mobs that poses a serious problem that I hadn't recognized until tonight. The thoughtless, easy, almost automatic response of "love your enemies" -- typified by my latest post -- reveals my old-school, politically incorrect upbringing. This response, I should say, is most easily coughed up while sitting in a soft arm chair at a safe distance from the action, like the 2,000 miles between me and California. That quirky response reveals clunky cultural blinders on top of obsidian lenses three inches thick on top of a Kevlar blindfold with a layer of duct tape over the eyes for good measure -- that's how blind I was. Because by regurgitating the old saying, "love your enemies," I was implicitly labeling people as enemies. Some of you are bothered by this - and I actually see some point to what you've said.

This term was not meant to apply to anyone who opposed Prop. 8. It is not meant to apply to gays or any other group, except those who I think would be comfortable with that label because they really don't mind saying they hate us - which they have a right to feel and say, but civilly, please. A tiny group of people were meant.

I think some of you felt I was being judgmental, divisive, and insulting in using the term "enemy" to describe others, as if I was applying that to gays in general, or as if I were missing the fact that the "enemies" were actually brothers and sisters we need to love.

I'm all for loving people who come after us with what I interpret as visible hostility and hate. That's kind of the intent of my previous post, and this one. They are our brothers and sisters and we should love them, even if they lose control and do things that seem wrong to us. But can't we love people, recognizing them as brothers and sisters, while also recognizing them as "enemies" that meet the dictionary requirements for that word, i.e., having hostility or hate toward us, opposing our interests, and in a few rare cases, even intending harm? The intentions may be honorable, as they are in most "anti-Mormons" who want to save people from hell by telling others that we don't believe in Christ and abuse children or whatever else they say. There are some great people, like Saul of Tarsus before his conversion, who take the stance of "enemies" to Christianity or the Mormon flavor thereof. "Enemy" is not necessarily an insult. In fact, if we're half as bad and deluded as some folks say we are, some of our most dangerous "enemies" may be heroes and saints in God's eyes. So recognize that "enemy" is not necessarily a put down.

When someone in an angry mob curses you while holding a sign saying "Mormon scum" and says it's time for retribution, calling Mormons the enemy, it seems like "enemy" status might even be one of the few things we could mutually agree upon. But to avoid adding any fuel to a potential fire, I am looking for softer, more politically correct language. So how about this: "Not Quite Friends." NQF. "Love Thy NQFs." Hmm, it's just not working. Suggestions? I'm at least somewhat serious. Is there better language to describe our NQFs?

(Note: Originally I used "Not Quite Friends Anymore" - NQFA.)

18 comments:

kannie said...

UnFriendly Ones? UFOs, for short? ;-)

Speaking, of course, of select individuals and not of a blanket group...

Also, I suppose they could be friendly to others, so maybe UFOToMs - UnFriendlyOnesToMormons? :-) Or some variant? :-)

(This kind of eggshell dancing is why I haven't blogged directly about Prop 8, LOL... just call me "yeller!")

velska said...

I really do wonder about this. When Jesus said, "love your enemies", didn't he mean those people whom we easily consider "enemies"? IOW, those who speak all manner of lies about us, who want to take away our freedom of expressing our faith, who deface meetinghouses and even temples, who vandalize property and yes, physically attack us.

As an aside, the aforementioned are not the most dangerous ones. A rabid mob can actually strengthen one's resolve.

How about just calling them "critics"? "Violent critics" for the most physically abusive?

Honestly, I am totally at sea with political correctness. I understand diplomacy to some degree, but PC often requires us to give neutral or even positive labels to things that are quite unequivocally offensive.

I am not a fan of eggshells, either...

Joel Glanfield said...

This is starting to get really ridiculous:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081114/ap_on_re_us/suspicious_powder

But I suppose this is what we signed up for, right? I suppose this is what "democracy" is all about?

Anonymous said...

We are now at the point of calling white black, and black white. This rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but seriously, why bother? The only person who should truly be offended by this extreme PC-ness is the person who has to reword everything.

Anonymous said...

suzyq says:

I don't think it's possible to know whether someone on a video screen is either "friend" or "foe"; how can we generalize like that?

We speak of not assuming inaccurately or unrighteously, and yet, how can we know?

*we* have been able to desensitize ourselves about foreign wars by labelling--

and yet *we* refuse to label this situation--

and, if we believe that God is at the helm (those of us who are Mormons) who is really being "attacked"? Are *we* or is God?

Do we have the strength to defend God? It might go well for us if we side ourselves with Him, but how dare we think highly enough of ourselves to think we can defend Him?

Mark N. said...

FWIW, Strong's Lexicon of the Greek New Testament has this to say about "enemies", as found at Matthew 5:44:

echthros, ekh-thros'

Definition: from a prim. echtho (to hate); hateful (pass. odious, or act. hostile); usually as a noun, an adversary (espec. Satan)

Translated as: enemy, foe.

Anonymous said...

They are enemies of god and the church if they are participating actively in these protests. And yes I am judging them when I say that by their fruits just as I should.

We are to use boldness but not overbearance yes, but what about those who would impose a form of unrighteous dominion upon us. Do we stand idle? Should we be doing anything but calling them our enemies.

Think Jeff what would Christ have done to those defacing the Temple grounds, do you really believe he would have remained meek and silent, because we have evidence that he would have not only removed the signs but chased the protesters off.

Who's example should we follow then the saviors or societies.

Jayleen said...

If the term 'enemy' was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me.

Although, UFO is particularly humorous.

I knew who you meant, and I think most do. I'm sick of PC. That's partly what got us here. People have becoms so afraid of giving possible offense, we've coddled Satan in many forms. And coddling Satan or his influence is not what Jesus had in mind I'm sure.

I'm not advocating Mormon Ninjas, but it's time we came out and stop hiding our light behind political correctness (is that a word?).

We can be respectful without shying away from calling sin, sin.

Anonymous said...

"Love Your Enemies"

If only it were that easy.

"I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil"

"whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also"

"if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also"

"whosoever shall compel thee to ago a mile, go with him twain"

"give to him that asketh thee"

"from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away"

"bless them that curse you"

"do good to them that hate you"

"pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you"

Not only are we exhorted to pray for those who hate and vituperate against us, we are to actively seek to bless their lives ourselves by doing good to them.

Consider the source.

"I'm sorry but we don't serve Earl Grey" said...

"I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil"

"bless them that curse you"

"do good to them that hate you"

We should have invited the protesters into the temple visitor's center for punch and cookies.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely yes.

Bookslinger said...

"Inviting them in for punch and cookies."

I recall a story about that. Not about temples. But about turning the "little ol' ladies" loose on protesters and "killing them with kindness."

I'm not sure it was even an LDS story, or even a true story. But it was kind of funny. Does anyone else remember some story like that?

Roxy said...

I like UFOs.

I think praying for them would be nice. Doing good to them? Eh..not so much, but we must. Heck, let's have a fiesta and invite the protesters and discuss important issues and what not.

I used to consider myself pretty fragile. The people that picked on me for as long as I could remember didn't make it realy easy for me. But recently I had a thought. I like to sing especially when I'm feeling down, so maybe if someone is yelling at me or cussing, I could sing! That might even scare them away. Just a thought.

Of course if someone is charging at me with a weapon of some kind, I won't be sitting there looking at them or singing. Running away can be really helpful.

Hotational said...

Or what if we invited them a free lunch to share views and offered to pay $10,000 to gay-lesbian causes? That would make everybody happy, right? Maybe we could do this in neutral territory like the Coyote Cafe in Colorado.

MainTour said...

WWJD - Love the Sinner, but condemn the sin.

RickLDS said...

I'm tempted to think along the lines of "What would Porter Rockwell do?" The problem with that type thinking is that it doesn't really help. On the other side of the coin, though, is the fact that they are not really looking for a way to resolve this without resorting to violence, criminal property damage, and harrassment. What we did is how it was meant to be done. We took the legal and high road. I have no problem with standing up for my own voting rights. The vote was taken by a democratic vote. I believe that is how they wanted it. It didn't work out for them. Did I expect them to accept it gracefully? No. If I am to fight the adversary it any of its forms, I will do so and will continue to do so. I cannot coddle someone into accepting the truth.

ltbugaf said...

Funny you should mention inviting the protesters in for punch and cookies. When activist groups showed up at my ward's open house in Colorado about 25 years ago, to verbally harass those in attendance and slip propaganda into our restrooms and hymnbooks, they were given root beer floats in the parking lot.

But in the end, they still had to be sent away. After all, Christ also named people's sins and drove them away from his temple when they were interfering with the sacred work done there.

Mike said...

Good post. You seem to walk the line quite nicely. It's difficult to approach this subject with the acceptable amount of homage to the PC crowd. Why we can't just assume good will on the part of the speaker like in the good old days, until said speaker proves himself a hateful bigot in action, is beyond me.

I recall the unfortunate man who used the word 'niggardly' at the wrong time. How quickly that word got drummed out of the vocabulary. And one can no longer use the word 'gay' in any other context than as a sexual reference. 1984 was a good book to visit but not so much fun to live in.